Mostly plastic, and often from New Jersey
December 21, 2018 11:47 AM   Subscribe

"Aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate settles over store windows like dazzling frost. It flashes like hot, molten gold across the nail plates of young women. It sparkles like pure precision-cut starlight on an ornament of a North American brown bear driving a car towing a camper van. Indeed, in Clement Clarke Moore’s seminal Christmas Eve poem, the eyes of Saint Nicholas himself are said to twinkle like aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate (I’m paraphrasing). In homes and malls and schools and synagogues and banks and hospitals and fire stations and hardware stores and breweries and car dealerships, and every kind of office — and outside those places, too — it shines. It glitters. It is glitter."
posted by Lycaste (34 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Caity Weaver is a national treasure.
posted by k8t at 11:51 AM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


All I want to know is what that number one industry is.
posted by jeather at 12:02 PM on December 21, 2018 [15 favorites]


Most of the glitter that adorns America’s name brand products is made in one of two places: The first is in New Jersey, but the second, however, is also in New Jersey.

There are a suspicious number of billboards for topless bars along the Garden State Parkway...
posted by uncleozzy at 12:06 PM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


All I want to know is what that number one industry is.

I think he mentioned it at the end of the paragraph. Look at all the pearlescent/opalescent/whatever name they want paint jobs on cars. 4 of the last 5 cars I bought since 1999 have had that sort of paint. Some of it contains mica, but I bet a lot contains plastic glitter.
posted by TedW at 12:10 PM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


See the reason I thought Can't be car paint is that surely everyone knows there is glitter in car paint? You can see it very clearly. (It had been my first assumption too.)
posted by jeather at 12:21 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was guessing car paint even before I read that. All your metallic car finishes are going to have glitter.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:23 PM on December 21, 2018


All I want to know is what that number one industry is.

I think he mentioned it at the end of the paragraph.


She.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:29 PM on December 21, 2018 [11 favorites]


You know I just did not read that as a clue because it seemed SO obviously "well everyone knows this" and a bit "she's not gonna do something that dumb if it's really a secret and she's bringing a reporter around".
posted by jeather at 12:38 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yes, automobile paint almost always has big ol' chunks of what is obviously glitter or mica in it. I wish it didn't, I think it looks dumb. Sometimes you see cars (like an orange Crosstrek or a lime green Fiesta) that have normal paint and I love that look. I didn't think it was supposed to be a secret that car paint is glittery?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:47 PM on December 21, 2018


This was fascinating, although I think it'd be improved without the gee golly shucks science is hard comedy routine.
posted by zamboni at 12:48 PM on December 21, 2018 [8 favorites]


I feel like this article was fun but as a scientist I would have loved less comedy and more information on how glitter is made and the materials science there. But on second thought I guess this article isn’t really for people like me. I have lots of experience visiting various manufacturing plants in my line of work so naturally I would have loved getting all the nitty gritty details. And yeah most people don’t have this perspective. I was also left wondering about edible glitters and how those are different and does this company make those too?
posted by FireFountain at 1:07 PM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


My daughter: "Daddy hates gwitta! Gwitta is his wuwst enemy."
posted by leotrotsky at 1:14 PM on December 21, 2018 [23 favorites]


To be fair, the glitter people didn't seem to want to actually say very much about their glitter.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:25 PM on December 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


The glittery/metallic car paint seems to be going out of style. Pastels and flat colors (although not actual flat paint for most OEMs; too hard to keep clean for the average buyer to want it) seem to be in.

Wonder what that will do to the glitter market.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:24 PM on December 21, 2018


Flat (as opposed to matte, which in the OEM car world is still definitely at least a satin finish and is definitely too fussy for a daily driver unless you have megabucks) colors coming back in style would be awesome. Frankly, anything other than white/black/silver coming back in style would be a big improvement on the thoroughly dreary landscape that is the modern American roadway. Even sports cars seem like they rarely come in bright colors anymore. It certainly doesn't help that everything is pretty much a chunky blob shape, either. That or Toxic Masculinity Incarnate, aka modern pickup trucks.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:40 PM on December 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


Like, where are the teal cars? Eggplant? Fuschia? What about a magenta car with cream striping? Why does everything have to be so grim and boring?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:42 PM on December 21, 2018 [22 favorites]


"In short, Dr. Miller was adamant that glitter is “not good” for the environment, but she did not advocate a ban. “I think we’ve got bigger fish to fry,” she said."

In short, fuck her.

Microplastics can spread via flying insects, research shows

Major study finds microplastics in soil across Switzerland

'Sad surprise': Amazon fish contaminated by plastic particles

"Not good?" This person is part of the problem. Microplastics can pass the blood/brain barrier and lodge in the body (instead of being carried out of the body with the rest of the natural waste). No one knows what happens after that because it's never happened before.
"Not a lot is known about microplastics..." so, no, lets not ban them until we can be sure they're causing us damage and it's a little late.

Or a lot too late "A new study shows that plastic particles in water may end up inside fish brains. The plastic can cause brain damage, which is the likely cause of behavioral disorders observed in the fish."
And... Microplastics in Seafood and the Implications for Human Health

The solution, instead of looking at your children and wondering exactly what percentage of them is now plastic (because they are and so are you and you should be frightened and furious), is this... https://twitter.com/stuartsemple/status/1076234797180207107
You should check out my compostable plant based glitter! We managed to save the sparkle! https://t.co/ntLteY7qcL
posted by Zack_Replica at 3:02 PM on December 21, 2018 [11 favorites]


My daughter: "Daddy hates gwitta! Gwitta is his wuwst enemy."

As an ex school IT technician it was mine as well. It would fall off the artwork pinned on the back wall and get sucked in by the PC fans. Computers don't enjoy having random short circuits applied to their motherboards.
posted by flabdablet at 3:15 PM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think it's more that glitter makes up only a tiny percentage of all plastic pollution, like a rounding error somewhere out around the seventh or eighth decimal place. I don't think it's something to be "frightened and furious" about. Plus, if I went around being "frightened and furious" about everything that people told me I should, I'd never get out of bed in the morning. I mean, just the default news sidebar on my phone is a neverending firehose of fear and outrage.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:20 PM on December 21, 2018 [20 favorites]


I heart Caity Weaver. Also, glitter always gets in my eye and I have raised a child to middle school age without having any containers of it in my house, EVER.
posted by 41swans at 3:54 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


My wife used to do costumes for skaters. Holographic sequins were all the rage. Somewhere in storage we still have tons of them. And yeah, they shipped out of New Jersey...
posted by jim in austin at 4:12 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I find glitter to be an intractable evil, but at least there's Newt Gingrich getting glitter bombed.
posted by wormwood23 at 7:17 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I once worked for a company that put up Christmas decorations for a bunch of stores and offices in New York...it was..a lot of work. After a few solid weeks of 18-hour days, I looked down and realized I had just peed some glitter. (Opalescent.)
To this day I wonder if it went up, or if it went through.
posted by sexyrobot at 7:53 PM on December 21, 2018 [19 favorites]


I'm sure archaeologists of the future, dredging the sunken ruins of New Orleans, will be able to date the city's remains in part by the appearance of glitter in the soil strata somewhere around the 1960s. That and the transition from glass to plastic Mardi Gras beads (and the concomitant massive spike in bead density) will sort the 20th century out nicely.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:01 PM on December 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Just remember, all that glitters is not goldaluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate.
posted by ckape at 8:50 PM on December 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Glitter is the herpes of art supplies.
posted by hippybear at 9:22 PM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


fak i hate glitter. but this was fun.
posted by stray at 9:58 PM on December 21, 2018


In the future, glitter will be mined from the stomachs of fish and seabirds, an almost infinite supply will bioaccumulate.
posted by hank at 11:30 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


How does glitter act in magnetic fields?

Moving through a field should induce a current the in the aluminum which would in turn generate a very small magnetism in the piece of glitter that would at least slow it down as it was falling but also might be able to levitate it and do all kinds of things of you chose your time varying external field just right.
posted by jamjam at 12:37 AM on December 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I liked the piece despite really hating glitter (having found yesterday on a shirt a piece of glitter that as best I can tell adhered on it on October 3 1992). This is another NYT piece where the photographer is underemployed.
posted by hawthorne at 6:57 AM on December 22, 2018


Even though it ultimately turns into an advertisement, Package Thief vs. Glitter Bomb (via) does feature an innovative application of glitter.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:35 AM on December 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


As much as I agree that microplastics and escaped glitter are a problem, I hope people wouldn't be getting upset with us glitter users out in public. You have no way of knowing whether we're using biodegradable glitters or what (and me and mine do try)

If I see someone giving me dirty looks while glittered up, I don't assume they're doing it for the environment.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:20 AM on December 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


On further reflection [boom tish] I bet the number 1 industry is the air force.
posted by hawthorne at 12:30 AM on December 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Hacker News and Reddit discussions both have a lot of people trying to figure out what the top secret use of glitter is. Some plausible guesses but nothing convincing. My money is on currency or some other form of counterfeit protection. Inspired by the article's mention of plywood having hidden glitter for counterfeit protection. Why not money? Either the paper or the ink. I have no evidence to support my theory.

Anyway, great article. It's fun to read something in the NYT with a light and amusing voice instead of being So Serious.
posted by Nelson at 1:48 AM on January 1, 2019


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